In the Season 1 finale of Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Addison Montgomery Shepherd (Kate Walsh) has come to Seattle Grace Hospital looking for the woman sleeping with her husband, Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). Quickly, our pioneering Addison deduces that Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) is the culprit.
There are a lot of things that are impossible to explain to people who haven’t experienced Grey’s Anatomy: the operation on a deer episode, the bomb inside a body cavity plot, or the ghost sex sequence. For an outsider, it sounds silly, but you must understand that it’s silly from the inside, too. Nobody was really taking this seriously.
But for every bizarre episode about a lion attack in downtown Seattle or a man who swallowed 10 American Girl Doll heads, there will be a heartbreaking moment between the flagship couple Derek and Meredith. Most notably, in season two when Meredith is pleading for Derek to “pick” her to be with (as opposed to his literal wife…. but that’s a whole other story). Of course, this was back in 2006 back before TikTok existed, but Meredith’s monologue helped inspire the idea of a “Pick Me” girl, who is the Gen Z equivalent of “Not Like Other Girls” trope (a distant cousin of The Mary Sue).
Ellen Pompeo, who played Meredith Grey for nearly half of her life, spoke with her former co-star Katherine Heigl about the significance of the scene, which she seems to regret nearly two decades later. Pompeo has been watching Grey’s Anatomy with her teenage daughter and seeing the show from the eyes of a TikToker with too much internet access, and that’s when she learned that her character might have spearheaded this movement, which she was trying to avoid. Via Variety:
POMPEO: So, OK, this is a real thing. My daughter and her friends, they sit around and they’re like, “Oh, she’s a ‘pick me girl.’”
HEIGL: Oh, my God! Is that what that means?
POMPEO: Yes. I’m like, “What’s a pick me girl?” They were like, “You know, girls who are like, ‘Pick me, choose me!’” And I’m like, “Hello?! Do you know who invented the ‘pick me girl’?”
HEIGL: That’s incredible.
POMPEO: Listen, I don’t know if you remember that I fought that speech so hard. That’s another really interesting thing about life — some things that I was so against, and I was like, “I can’t beg a man on TV! This is so embarrassing.” And then it turns out to be one of the most famous scenes ever.
HEIGL: It was a beautiful scene.
POMPEO: In the scene, I’m crying, but I’m really crying because I have to beg a man on television.
Again… this was 2006. There were worse shows airing at the time, so begging a man on television was not that strange. But out of context and plastered on TikTok, sure, it is a little off-putting. Not enough for Pompeo to leave the show, as she starred as Meredith for another 17 seasons. There are at least 13 other times she cried to a man on the show, but maybe those were warranted.
Still, she is fine with most of the stories from the early days, while Heigl is doing her best to forget about her ghost sex arch.
HEIGL: There would be scenes that I would be so embarrassed to be sitting next to her watching. I’d be like, “Can we fast forward this moment?”
POMPEO: Yeah. This is sex with the ghost.
HEIGL: Yeah, that. The oral sex with the ghost while somebody else was watching in the room. I don’t know how I’d explain that.
While it might seem like she’s looking back with a laugh, please keep in mind that this was not a weird, one-off episode of Grey’s with the ghost sex plotline. It didn’t resolve until NINE EPISODES LATER. So yeah, who cares about the “pick me” thing? There is a lot of unresolved trauma here. Also, this show is still on, in case you forgot.
You can rewatch the moment below.